Please excuse my slightly colorful story for the benefit of a great analogy:
One day, I was talking with my twenty year-old daughter. While I don’t remember the topic, I do remember trying to lighten the mood a bit while giving some direction. To emphasize my point, I used an expression that (I can’t believe I’m about to type these words…) “in my day” would have been a “hip” thing to say. (Seriously not sure when I became my grandmother.)
I was temporarily distracted from my trendiness by the shocked look on her face and slack jaw.
“What?!” I asked her. (I admit I wouldn’t have said this to a child…but she’s an adult now.)
“Mom….I don’t think that means what you think it means.”
“It means drinking two beverages at the same time…one in each hand.” (“Ha! See, you’re mom does know a thing or two!”)
She was completely unamused.
“Nope. Definitely not what you think it means.”
I thought for a split second before it was my turn to be horrified.
“NO! Your generation does not get to steal sayings that MY generation created, and then turn them into something horrifying so we sound stupid when we say them! That’s now how this works.”
What are you making that mean?
Let’s switch gears a bit, shall we? (Is it getting warm in here?)
Part of the human experience is that when we are struggling with a circumstance, we forget that our thoughts about the situation are not necessarily rooted truth or being viewed through a spot-free lens.
This leads to two primary issues:
1. Misunderstandings that hurt relationships.
It’s been said that when a conversation occurs between two people, there are actually four conversations at play: What I say, what I mean, what you hear, and what you think I meant by it. We get ourselves (and our relationships) into trouble when we start making the words of another person mean something….without checking for accuracy!
The best way to solve this is by mirroring what the other person has said. Flip your pronouns and check for understanding. (“So, are you saying….?” or “Are you upset with me?”)
2. Misunderstandings that hurt us.
Sometimes we make things mean things that they never meant at all. When I was young and struggled in school, I made that mean I wasn’t smart. When I fail at something, sometimes I make that mean it was a waste of time or that I never should’ve tried it at all. When a friend doesn’t return a call, I sometimes make that mean I’m not important to her.
And yet…. I also know that there are other possible explanations. I know I’m only seeing things from my own perspective and I’m missing half the story.
Just because you think something doesn’t mean it’s true.
A question I frequently ask clients is, “What are you making that mean?” I often get a little head shake in response, along with a look of confusion. But it doesn’t take long before they catch my meaning. They realize that how we interpret our circumstance is up to us. Now, I’m not talking about just thinking Pollyanna thoughts or refusing to acknowledge and allow our emotions. I am saying it’s important to stop and check our assumptions to see if our view might be obstructed.
Psalm 94:11 says that God knows our thoughts before they’re even formed. So I wonder how often He watches us we go through something…struggling & hurting…or angry & resentful…and thinks:
“Nooo. No. That doesn’t mean what you think it means.”
This doesn’t mean it’s over.
That doesn’t mean you aren’t worthy.
This doesn’t define you.
That doesn’t mean I don’t love you.
It doesn’t mean I’m not with you.
That doesn’t mean I did this to you, or that I’m trying to teach you a lesson.
You’re not seeing it all. Your view is obstructed. I’m still here. I have a plan. This will be okay in the end. I am working all things together for good.
Sometimes we cause the very thing that we’re thinking because we’re so sure of what we “see.”
We think we know where this is going, or how it’s going to end. We feel hopeless, so we stop fighting…which leads to us giving up something that God gave us to claim. A restored relationship, forgiveness, health, resilience, a victor’s story that will inspire others or help others to hang onto hope as well.
The next time you catch yourself certain of what’s in front of you, stop and ask yourself: What could I possibly be not seeing? What other possible explanations are there? What might God do with this situation if I trust Him and let Him in? You can’t control what happens to you, but you can decide what we make it mean.
We can all use a little support and a fresh perspective in life! Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation call with me and I’ll show you how coaching can help you step into the life you were created for.